It’s quite a spectacle to watch members of Congress -- all of whom have sworn an oath to support the U.S. Constitution -- brag about their disdain for the right
It’s quite a spectacle to watch members of Congress — all of whom have sworn an oath to support the U.S. Constitution — brag about their disdain for the right to due process, which is guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment (even for foreign nationals suspected of crimes in the United States).
And yet that’s exactly what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did when he sent out a press release boasting of an exchange he had today with FBI Director Robert Mueller during a hearing to examine the intelligence failures leading up to the unsuccessful Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253. From Sessions’ release:
FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER: “In this particular case, in fast-moving events, decisions were made—appropriately, I believe, very appropriately—given the situation…”
SEN. SESSIONS: “I don’t think you can say it’s appropriate. We don’t know what that individual knows, learned while he was working with al Qaeda, and we may never know, because he now has got a lawyer who’s telling him to be quiet.”
Let’s recall a point Spencer made on MSNBC last month in response to Pat Buchanan’s laments that the Nigerian suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was not immediately subjected to “hostile interrogation” — or what most of us would call torture.
We’ve seen we’ve gotten a lot of bad information from torturing people. I don’t really understand the argument that because every single time we have a new emergency, we have to forget about the hard lessons we’ve learned in the past over this. And then secondly, by every standard that we’ve seen so far, every piece of reporting, the guy cooperated. He immediately said he’s a member of al Qaeda. He started talking threateningly about how there were other attacks coming. So I’m not sure where we make this jump to the idea that we’re not getting information from the guy.
The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, has said Mr. Abdulmutallab provided “useable, actionable intelligence,” but declined to specify what it was. A law enforcement official said Mr. Abdulmutallab explained who gave him the bomb, where he received it and where he was trained to use it, among other things.
Eventually, Mr. Abdulmutallab stopped talking and asked for a lawyer, which he received about 30 hours after his arrest. It was not clear when in that timeline that the F.B.I. read him his Miranda rights.
But Sessions continued:
SESSIONS: “It’s not just the ability to prosecute this individual, but whether, if he were properly interrogated over a period of time, we may find out that there are other cells, other plans, other Abdulmutallabs out there boarding planes that are going to blow up American citizens.”
Here we go. What does Sessions mean by “properly interrogated”? What evidence is there, in the wake of news reports that Abdulmutallab immediately started talking upon his arrest, to suggest that he was not properly interrogated?
Make no mistake — when Sessions is talking about “proper interrogation,” this is a euphemism. He’s talking about waterboarding. He’s talking about torture. Elements of the Republican Party have become so completely Cheney-ized that they view due process, which is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, as “inappropriate” and maintain that torture should be the tactic of first resort whenever someone is suspected of being a terrorist.
And as Adam Serwer deftly pointed out this morning, Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) represents the GOP’s continued acceptance of torture as standing operating procedure during interrogations. From Brown’s acceptance speech last night:
And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation — they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.
Raising taxes, taking over our health care, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country.
This is the new normal for Republicans: You can be denied rights not through due process of law but merely based on the nature of the crime you are suspected of committing. Brown’s rhetorical framing, that jettisoning the legal system we’ve had for 200-plus years represents “tradition” while granting suspected criminals the right to legal counsel represents liberalism gone mad is new, and I suspect we’ll hear it again. “New rights” recalls the term “judicial activism,” which conservatives have redefined to mean “decisions Republicans don’t like” instead of decisions that overturn precedent. “New rights” can be broadly defined as upholding the legal rights of individuals based on the Constitution, rather than arbitrarily according to the whim of politicians. For Brown and the GOP, if you’re accused of terrorism, you’re automatically guilty, so legal representation is frivolous. These guys look at the Constitution like David Vitter and John Ensign look at the Ten Commandments.
Let’s also be clear: Brown, a former military lawyer, isn’t merely talking about denying people their day in court, he’s talking about torturing people who are suspected of being terrorists. Brown says he doesn’t think waterboarding is torture, which is on par with thinking evolution is fake and global warming is a hoax. He thinks not torturing people suspected of a crime or detained by the military is granting them “new rights.” We know where this goes.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new face of the Republican Party.
Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen
Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight
Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight
Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment
In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep
Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!
The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the
Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’
Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday
Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store
Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public
Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs
Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability
Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg
In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what
Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan
Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.
School of Hock
A growing number of college grads are defaulting on their student loans as the economy worsens.